If you want to stay warm this winter you have two options—pay a lot more for fuel or wear a lot more clothes. It’s not because winter is supposed to be especially cold or harsh. It’s because of record-high inflation that just won’t go away.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost to heat your home during the 2020-2021 winter was up 27% from the year before. This year, as my grandma used to say, “Katey, bar the door!” It’s estimated that some people will see their heating bill go up another 34%.
Every year, the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) estimates the cost to heat a home during the winter. For the upcoming heating season NEADA estimates the average cost for renters and homeowners to stay warm will be $1,202. Last year the cost was $1,025 and the previous year the number was $888. On a percentage basis that’s 17% higher than last year and 35% higher than two years ago.
Here’s how much NEADA is predicting the 4 primary fuel sources will go up this winter:
- Natural Gas 3%
- Electricity 9%
- Heating Oil 8%
- Propane 2%
Even though natural gas is expected to jump by the highest percentage, it will likely be the cheapest on a dollar basis. The average natural gas customer is expected to pay $952 to heat their home, compared to $709 last year. That compares to electric customers who are forecast to pay $1.328 this year compared to $1.242 last winter. Based on these predictions, NEADA believes Americans will pay more to stay warm this season that at any time in the past decade.
While astronomical fuel costs are an annoyance for some, for low-income Americans it may be devastating. The NEADA says, “Home heating costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable for millions of lower-income families. The rise in home energy costs this winter will put millions of lower income families at risk of falling behind on their energy bills and having no choice but to make difficult decisions between paying for food, medicine and rent.”
Certain individuals can request help with heating bills through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which provides funds to help meet the utility costs of low-income eligible elderly and disabled adults. Funds for the program are sent to each state through a grant from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services. The program is administered through a network of established non-profit and local government agencies experienced in providing energy assistance programs.
And often, utility companies have funds designated to help customers who are struggling to pay their heating bill. For people who can pay part of their bill, companies may offer a payment plan or temporary discount. Some companies also work with local non-profits to provide additional financial assistance to qualifying households. Contact your utility provide to find out about options available to you.